So let me give you a glimpse of what the insides of my thoughts look like when I’m stuck in the eating disorder vortex. I’m going to try to organize this into outline form, but it’s tough, because when you get stuck in this thought pattern, different snippets are flying at you like missiles at hundreds of miles an hour from all different directions and it’s exhausting to try to duck out of the way.
I’m currently stuck in an airport for a couple of hours with free Wi-Fi. I have a few options to kill time:
- I could take a brief, energizing walk, followed by a healthy snack and some Internet browsing
- I could arrive at the airport and panic because
- I’m totally starving, which is an issue because
- I really have NO BUSINESS being hungry, because I had an ice-cream sundae for lunch – one of those enormous, ridiculous heaps of goo and glob that are simultaneously reminiscent of childhood and totally delicious – Friendly’s, I both love you and hate you for this – and the plan was to not eat for the rest of the day, and
- I ate TWO PACKETS of peanuts on the plane, which I’m kicking myself for – gah, two tiny packets of insignificant volume and ONE HUNDRED FORTY CALORIES, ugh, and
- there really aren’t any decent gluten-free options at the airport, and I’m tired and I’m stressed and
- CANDY CANDY CANDY CANDY
- Surrounded by empty wrappers, the harsh fluorescent lighting reflecting the guilt back at me like Hell’s disco ball…I hate myself.
- I’m totally starving, which is an issue because
- Repeat the 2nd bullet above, 1-3, about six times. Pace around for about twenty minutes while repeating this cycle.
- While trying to break the cycle, I realize – Hey, there’s a Wendy’s. I can have chili. That’s decent, right? Oh, and a baked potato. Because potato is a vegetable, or a starch, or something, as long as it isn’t fries, and if I get it without the cheese that’d be OK, right? I know I’m over my calories for the day, but I’m supposed to not be obsessing over this stuff, and OOH LOOK CHOCOLATE <slaps self> Chili. And a potato. NO CHEESE. That’s too much. This together is about 345 calories and I KNOW you ate too much today but I PROMISE this will NOT make you fat. Yes, I know you’re already fat. But just EAT THE DAMN CHILI so you don’t completely crash here, you’re coming off the sundae and I KNOW it feels like you’re losing your mind but I PROMISE it’s just the sugar and YES you will be OK if you eat the potato and the chili.
- Burn 87 calories walking through the airport. (Yes. I measured. That’s what smartphones are for, after all.) Get the freaking potato. Get asked twice “are you sure you don’t want cheese?” Gee, thanks. Usually I only need enough willpower to make my order. <eyeroll>
- Eat the chili and the potato. Note that it would have been much better with cheese. Feel virtuous at the sacrifice. Scrape bowl thoroughly with spoon and tip dish up to face to get every last morsel. To the horror of others waiting at gate A33, proceed to lick out bowl. (Dude. If this isn’t your first time in the airport, undoubtedly you’ve seen weirder. Deal.)
- Sit and write, because as much as you’d rather eat your feelings, you know you’ll feel better if you get some of them out.
So, to the rest of the world, I can pretend today was the first bullet – but anyone with food issues could have written bullets 2 and 3, which were my reality.
I’ve been putting off writing this week. I had therapy last Friday, and dang it, therapy is HARD. It’s an hour of crying, and I don’t even really know why….
Interestingly, my therapist says I do not have an eating disorder. To which my first response was, “oh yeah? I’ll show YOU!” And I measured every bite I ate this week, and ran 14 miles, and was on my way to proving her wrong until I fell off the fence a bit today.
I also have some homework from therapy. And since I go back on Wednesday, I best get started on some of it. (I always was a pretty good student. The pressure for straight As pales to the pressure to be thin. In comparison, school was kind of a breeze – much easier to get an A on a paper you can finish – hand in and hand off – than to work constantly towards a goal of perfection that you can never reach.)
My homework is based a bit on what we talked about – that I was having a hard time stopping the evening binges lately. I seem to have a need to fill the time between “home from work” and “bed” with food. She wondered if I was self-medicating (wow. Sorry, but duh) since I was primarily stuffing my face with carbs (kettle corn, with cheese popcorn if I’m out of the former, and chips. This is progress, sort of. It’d be entire boxes of cereal if I allowed myself to bring them into the house.)
We also discussed my need to finish things off – when I’m in binge mode, I can’t stop myself by throwing things away. I have no idea why this is – I’ll be eating, and feel sick and stuffed, and KNOW I need to get away from the food because it’s no good for me – but I canNOT throw it in the garbage. It’s baffling. Occasionally, I can save some for later (yay! another opportunity to binge and hate myself!) but why can’t I throw it in the trash? It’s not like I get charged more if I don’t finish it. No one comes to my house and fines me. I don’t get a refund for an empty container. Why I insist on wedging it down my pie pit is beyond me.
But I do.
So the homework was:
- Write in the evenings.
- Go for at least one evening walk with your husband each week.
- Change self-talk to “I don’t feel comfortable….” (instead of “fat” or “this weight doesn’t work for me”)
- Throw away some food.
This was a week ago Friday. Since then, I’ve come up with some great excuses as to why I haven’t done this stuff yet. (Hey, good excuses DO take some effort!) I was really busy at work and didn’t get home until after 7 most nights. And I didn’t binge once this week (today excepted, kind of.) And while we didn’t walk in the evenings, we did go for four morning runs this week. (Okay, okay, my prime motivation here was weight loss. But IT TOTALLY COUNTS because a good run clears my head…right?)
I won’t even get in to #3.
This leaves me with #4. Throw away some food. When she suggested this, instantly my mind went to the remnants of my last binge: a bag of kettle-cooked potato chips, about 2/3 empty, and a jar of the most dangerous and delicious food on the planet – dark chocolate peanut butter. (WARNING – viewer discretion is advised. This shiz is addictive and dangerous. Really, don’t click this. Just. Do. Not. Go. There. Unless you’re one of those people who is all like, “I don’t really see what all the fuss is about chocolate,” in which case I don’t understand you and we can never be friends. But if you’re one of those people, you probably have zero interest in this blog, anyway.) About 1/4 of the jar was sitting there, quietly mocking me from the kitchen cupboard, just waiting for me to succumb….
So I left my appointment with those two things in mind. Throw away the chips and the chocolate peanut butter.
Guess where they are?
Still in my pantry.
I did eat one and one-half ounces of chips with dinner one night. I know I was supposed to throw them out, but look at how disciplined I was, eating just a serving and a half! I’m a model of moderation! I can handle this!! So they can totally stay, right??
But there the peanut butter sits. Untouched….but not thrown away, either.
I wonder why I can’t just…pitch it? I’m amazed by its power over me. A small, three-quarters-empty jar of nuts, sugar, and chocolate is holding me hostage like a mouse in a glue trap.
I have three days to carry this jar six feet from the pantry to the garbage. So why don’t I just do it? What am I afraid I’m tossing in the trash? What part of me am I discarding? What becomes vulnerable if I put this piece of armor on the compost heap?
It’s just food, after all.